Reflections On My Past 12 Months

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Last week marked my one year anniversary at JACK Entertainment. A relatively meaningless date, PTO considerations aside of course. But because this year seemed to pass in the blink of an eye, I wanted to take a minute to reflect on everything.

I tend to be overly critical of myself, so if you’d permit me, I want to apologize in advance if this article takes on a bit of narcissistic tone. Because I’m making a conscious effort to be less critical, and my reflections are overwhelmingly positive.

I’ve fundamentally changed the reality of my life over the past 12 months.

Last July I got back from living in Germany for about a year where I had been teaching English and earning a stipend. I was effectively revenue neutral during that year–not bad considering I traveled and drank beer extensively. But I came back last summer with little money, and effectively no solid job prospects.

As 23 years olds with no jobs these days do, I performed the ultimate cliche and moved into my parents’ basement. My childhood room with all the sunlight had since been turned into a guest room. Apparently only short-term guests.

It was about at this time that I had decided I would do Praxis, basically a personal and professional development apprenticeship program. It’s really an amazing program and I would encourage you to click on the link to check it out and learn more.

But anyway, I decided to do Praxis and then right around the same time, I was able to get an interview at JACK Entertainment, a small, innovative gaming company based in Downtown Detroit. I went in and, for lack of a better phrase, pretty much nailed the interview. I was offered the position of Project Manager for the Legal and Government Relations team. Not my ideal job–I was more interested in something along the lines of marketing–but it seemed like an interesting role at a cool company.

Due to a few considerations, one of them being my increasingly depleted bank account, I decided to pass on the apprenticeship side of Praxis and take advantage of the really cool opportunity at JACK. I still did the educational and development side of the program, which proved to be hugely valuable to me.

So as I started my new job, I was also doing the pre-apprenticeship Praxis bootcamp, writing extensively, and driving 38 miles each way back and forth between work and my parents’ basement. I tried to take my Praxis training to heart in both my job and my life. Due to this, I was more outgoing than normal, and I tried to meet people and build connections at my work.

One of those connections I built was with our Creative Director. I reached out to him somewhat randomly, showed him a website I built as part of a content marketing idea I had, and we went to lunch. I even offered to help in any way I could with marketing projects in addition to my job as Project Manager for Legal. I also reached out and had meetings with our VP of Communications to express my interest there.

Nothing really came of it, and I settled into the role I was hired for. I learned it, got good at it, and was slowly given more responsibility. I was starting to enjoy it and get into a groove when, in the spring, my boss told me the Creative Director had reached out to him about a potential marketing position he thought would be a good fit for me.

Apparently those lunches and conversations a few months back actually paid off.

Over the next month I had several meetings with my boss and with the marketing people. Though I was finally comfortable in my role and starting to take more on, I decided to take the risk and move to the marketing team. My boss on the legal team, being the cool guy that he is, said he’d rather not lose me, but that he understood I had to do what I thought was best for me.

So I moved to the marketing team and have been doing that since April. Managing our creative projects, helping with the website, and writing copy.

Now back to the basement front. In the spring, at about the same time everything else was happening, I almost impulsively decided I was moving to Detroit as soon as possible. Ever since starting to work at JACK I imagined I would move down there, but I didn’t think I would before the end of the summer.

But I just kind of realized that that “end of summer” deadline was arbitrary and could easily be extended when the time came. So I just decided hell with it, I’m moving to Downtown now.

I looked for apartments for about two weeks and took a couple tours of the few nice places that were in my somewhat low price range–despite your conceptions about Detroit, housing in the Downtown and Midtown areas has become quite expensive. After those couple weeks, I found a place, signed a lease, and moved in on April 22nd.

I now walk 15 min to work nearly every single day.

So going from no job and living in a basement to working in the field I want to work in, and living in a Downtown apartment. With changing paths within my company about half way through.

I don’t really appreciate how different the picture of my life is unless I take the time to actually think about it. One day I sat back and realized I was doing everything I said I wanted to do a year ago, and did it pretty much exactly how I thought I’d do it. That’s a cool thing.

My goal now is to remind myself of this whenever I’m feeling insecure, inadequate, or like I’m lacking confidence. Basically in 6 or 7 months I completely changed the reality of my life. I did that. I created that reality. And I’m proud of myself.

Just have a goal, do things you feel are in the general direction of that goal, develop a bias for action, and you’ll meet your goals.

That’s it.


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